The Agassiz Fire Department provided coverage for the fire at Harrison Lake. (Agassiz Fire Department)

Province needs to deal with wildfire smoke, Harrison says

Council voted to ask the province to look into the risks of smoke, and find ways to mitigate them

Harrison Hot Springs council members will be asking the province to take a “more proactive approach” in assessing the risks of wildfire smoke, after a summer of heavy smoke saw fewer visitors at the resort town.

“I’ve heard the expectation this year is going to be another rough wildfire season,” councillor Michie Vidal said Monday (March 4).

“I think this resolution is very timely.”

Councillor Samantha Piper first brought forward the idea at the Feb. 19 meeting, after council received the village’s newest community wildfire protection plan.

The report was designed to help define and mitigate threats to Harrison Hot Springs because of wildfires, which have been increasingly severe in the past few years.

RELATED: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

Although the report largely focused on risks associated with fire, it also discussed potential problems coming from wildfire smoke, which was the basis of council’s motion Monday.

The motion asks the province to do better at assessing the risks of being exposed to wildfire smoke, and to create decision-making tools to assist communities in determining what measures can be taken to mitigate those risks.

It’s not totally clear what those tools would look like, although a staff report said the measures to mitigate risks could be “up to and including evacuation.”

The motion notes that wildfire smoke negatively impacts public health, the ability of visitors and residents to enjoy the natural beauty of Harrison Hot Springs, and has a negative effect on the economics of the community.

This has been a concern of council for some time now, especially because of the potential economic consequences for the resort municipality.

“It’s true, it does impact health, it does impact our ability to enjoy, but fire season really impacts hugely on our economy,” councillor Gerry Palmer said.

“The effects on small businesses are huge.”

RELATED: Fraser Valley fire departments form ‘strike teams’ to combat wildfires

Council has said a number of times this year that the summer smoke created a decrease in summer visitors.

Although there is no direct causation between low visitor numbers and increased wildfire smoke, Harrison Hot Springs did see lower pay parking revenues in 2018 than previous years.

During the March 4 council meeting, Harrison council members voted to bring their motion to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association AGM this May, to give other communities a chance to comment.

If the motion is accepted at LMLGA, it will go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities AGM in the fall.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Delays en route for Highway 7 in Harrison Mills

Road resurfacing will cause month-long delays for drivers travelling through Harrison Mills

The luckiest man in Agassiz finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Missing woman last seen downtown Chilliwack in late April

Family concerned for Rebecca Lynne Sackley’s well-being

Chilliwack prolific offender arrested after four months on the lam

B.C.-wide warrant issued for David Allen Geoghegan in January

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Metro Vancouver mayors ask public to lobby feds for annual $375M transit fund

Mayors renewing their call for transit funding as federal election looms

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

BC Ferries asks boaters to learn signals and be careful around vessels

BC Ferries responded to 15 marine emergencies in 2018

VIDEO: Suspected arson sends five to Abbotsford hospital with smoke inhalation

Man seen throwing flammable substance in van, lighting it on fire next to home

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Mother bear, three cubs relocated from Maple Ridge

Silver Valley residents calling for ‘no-kill’ zone.

VIDEO: TransLink to roll out battery-powered bus pilot this summer

Four buses will run a 2.5 year pilot along Marine Drive

Most Read